Man says he was intentionally run down while biking on N. Williams Ave

Scott Stephenson says he suffered facial wounds
after a woman intentionally ran into him
while he biked on N Williams Avenue.
(Photo: Scott Stephenson)

North Portland resident Scott Stephenson is still shaken up after being involved in a road rage altercation on North Williams Avenue last Saturday. Stephenson, 31, says he and a woman driving a car got into a shouting match and that the woman escalated the situation by intentionally swerving her vehicle into him, knocking him to the ground, and then fleeing the scene.

After hearing about Stephenson’s story, I contacted him directly to hear his side of the story. Here’s how he remembers it…

Stephenson was stopped in the bike lane, waiting at the red light at N. Fremont at about 1:00 pm. As his light turned green, a woman was getting into her car just outside the Williams St. Market. She left her driver’s side door open, and Stephenson says his arm “grazed her door.” “It was no big deal,” he recalled, “So I just kept on going.”

“Next thing I know she side-swiped me. I tried to stay upright, but I was leaning against her car and when she pulled away I fell.”

A few seconds later, Stephenson noticed the woman had pulled up right next to him and was screaming, “Why’d you hit my door, you fuckin’ asshole!” to which Stephenson replied, “You shouldn’t open your door into the bike lane!”

Stephenson admits he engaged in a heated verbal exchange. A statement about the incident from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) says that, “Stephenson told police that he continued to ride, yelled at the driver, ‘Fuck you bitch, you give drivers a bad name,’ and flipped her off.”

After the yelling, he says the woman surged ahead of him and started swerving in and out of the bike lane. When traffic let up a bit, the woman then pulled off of Williams at Skidmore. When Stephenson rode through the Skidmore intersection he gestured east toward the car on Skidmore and flipped her off again.

Existing conditions on Williams Ave-5-4

The bike lane on Williams.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

At that point, he says the woman turned her car around, got back on Williams, and started driving aggressively toward him. “Next thing I know she side-swiped me. I tried to stay upright, but I was leaning against her car and when she pulled away I fell.” Stephenson says he skinned up his knees, scraped several teeth on the ground, hurt his and wrist, and suffered cuts on his face. A police statement says medical personnel that responded treated Stephenson for minor injuries and that he refused to be transported to the hospital.

After the contact and after he fell to the ground, Stephenson says the woman sped away in her car.

Stephenson says he was able to talk with two witnesses who saw the incident. He also got her license plate number and reported it to the police (they say the plate was incorrect, see more below).

The PPB say they do not know the identity of the woman. From witness statements, they only know that she is an African American and that her vehicle is a light-blue mini-van or SUV (likely without any damage). They have referred the case to their Traffic Investigations Unit.

Stephenson says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that some resolution will happen. For now, he’s still shaken up by the incident. “I was riding around on Monday and Tuesday and every car that would come up behind me… my stomach just sunk because I was waiting for the car to hit me.”

It’s worth noting that N Williams Avenue is currently the focus of a PBOT project to improve bike access and traffic safety.

We’ll let you know if there are any developments in the case.

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Ethan
Ethan
10 years ago

I take it we don’t know the (incorrect) plate number? I bet the actual plate is similar.

Todd Hudson
Todd Hudson
10 years ago
Reply to  Ethan

That’s why this person will be found. They have a description of the person, a description of the car, and even though they license plate number he gave is incorrect, they should be able to find a range of similar vehicles. One of those will have a similar plate and will be owned by a black female.

peejay
peejay
10 years ago

Jail time and permanent loss of license are appropriate punishments in this case. Both parties behaved badly, but the one whose *intentional* actions could have caused injury or death was the one behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

dan
dan
10 years ago
Reply to  peejay

Why is this not assault with a deadly weapon?

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
10 years ago
Reply to  peejay

Or at least Vehicular Assault?

Jake
10 years ago
Reply to  peejay

Every moment you react to what is done is a moment you are missing what is in front of you.

Carl
Carl
10 years ago

I’d like to be cautiously optimistic as well, but PPD’s track record at going after drivers who harass cyclists doesn’t leave a lot of room for it. Here’s hoping this marks the start of a new approach that takes this potentially deadly behavior seriously.

Dk
Dk
10 years ago
Reply to  Carl

I can tell you they won’t. I think the current rule is unless the victim of an incident like this is admitted directly to the icu, they don’t investigate, nor issue citations.

Rol
Rol
10 years ago

She’s all mad he touched her car, so what does she do? Make him touch the car again.

Next time it’s better to say you didn’t see the door and it came out of nowhere.

Door Zoner
Door Zoner
10 years ago

Name calling and finger flipping does not justify menace or assault with a 2000lb steel death machine. Until drivers fear being turned in by cyclists and pedestrians for outrageously violent acts like this they will continue to hurt and kill with impunity. Mandatory jail time and loss of driving rights for life would go a long ways to curb these obscene behaviors. (btw, obscene is being assaulted by a car while riding a bike, not cursing out a driving for blocking your right of way).

Spiffy
10 years ago
Reply to  Door Zoner

a mini-van would weigh at least that much… my 2000 Forester weighed just over 3500 lbs and it wasn’t very big… my 1982 Subaru weighed 2300 lbs and it was tiny…

Spiffy
10 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

oops, meant that it would weigh at least TWICE as much as 2000 lbs…

naomi
naomi
10 years ago

How does one “brush up” against a car door? Since he glossed over “fuck you bitch” with “verbal altercation”, how do we know “brush up against car door” isn’t the brushed over version of “slapped/slammed door shut on woman”?

Not saying anyone is ever justified in being struck by a car because obviously there is no excuse for that, but I do have a hard time feeling remorse for those who seem intent on digging their own grave.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  naomi

“How does one “brush up” against a car door?”

Well, if you’re trying to avoid speeding cars on your left and you’re riding in a 4-5 foot bike lane and there’s a door partially opened in that bike lane, you don’t really have much room so you try to squeeze by?

“Since he glossed over “fuck you bitch” with “verbal altercation”

Note that “verbal exchange” (not “verbal altercation”) are my words, not Stephenson’s. Thanks.

Dk
Dk
10 years ago
Reply to  naomi

Pretty easily actually. I think I bump a car about once a week. It’s usually when I’m trying to avoid being squished by traffic and 90% of the time is my bag brushing the mirror or an open door as I judged my and the bike’s width correctly, but misjudged the overlap of the bike.

matthew vilhauer
matthew vilhauer
10 years ago
Reply to  naomi

naomi-well said, seems like he bit off more than he could chew. i can have a fairly short fuse at times and have done thing like he did in the past and can honestly say it hardly ever turns out well.

next time i’d recommend the jedi-cyclist mind trick:

*these are not the confrontations you are looking for…*

*move along.*

*move along.*

mark kenseth
mark kenseth
10 years ago

What race is Stephenson? My point being, does it matter what race the driver is? Besides that, I hope she is located and prosecuted. I can’t believe she was angry about her inanimate door being hit while taking it out on a real living being.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  mark kenseth

“What race is Stephenson? My point being, does it matter what race the driver is? “

That’s a good question. Race and racism have been brought up countless times during the N. Williams Ave Project. While putting this story together, I did not ask Stephenson what race the woman was, nor did I ask the PPB. The police offered that information on their own, and I decided it would be good to publish it in case it helps someone identify her and get her in touch with the police.

JRB
JRB
10 years ago

Race is always relevant when trying to indentify a person of interest in a crime, although usuallly not used if all you have is race and gender. It is generally considered appropriate to include race as long as you have some other physical characteristics such as approximate age, height, weight, clothing.

Bjorn
Bjorn
10 years ago
Reply to  mark kenseth

Considering the backstory on attempts to improve safety on this stretch being mired by anti-gentrification forces many of whom see cyclists riding on williams as part of a larger effort to push minorities, especially african americans out of the neighborhood I’d say it is an important part of the story.

mark kenseth
mark kenseth
10 years ago
Reply to  Bjorn

Good points by both. Gentrification doesn’t affect one racial group though, and that’s a pretty big causal stretch.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  Bjorn

If and when I ride up Williams on my way to my North Portland home, I wish never to project that my white body that makes less than $ 27,000 dollars a year is an instrument of institutionalized racism. Albiet, there are those who will ALWAYS see it that way. The debate surrounding this area is getting SO tired. 189 languages are identified to be spoken in the Portland area by the administration at PPS. We are a strangely diverse community, with a very small percentage of African Americans. It is sad what has happened to their neighborhoods all over the country. I ask you to visit East St.Louis Ill. anytime. THIS issue IMO is about two stupid unthinking buffoons who both were having a bad day. period.

Allan
Allan
10 years ago

Would you argue with someone walking around with a loaded gun? If not, why would you argue with someone in a car. Obviously its not okay to go around shooting people, but folks snap sometimes. Don’t make it more likely that it’ll happen to you by putting someone in a rage

Allan
Allan
10 years ago
Reply to  Allan

oh, and I hope this guy is okay

Spiffy
10 years ago
Reply to  Allan

I would argue with somebody pointed a loaded shotgun right in my face if I knew I was right…

Over and Doubt
Over and Doubt
10 years ago
Reply to  Allan

Cell-phone camera, if you’ve got one. As soon as you’re confronted, start recording. Teddy Roosevelt update: Speak softly and carry, not a big stick, but a recording device.

Esther
Esther
10 years ago

I just want to point out that N Williams is the focus of a PBOT safety project is somewhat irrelevant to this situation. These kinds of interpersonal conflicts can happen ANYWHERE, on any road, in this city. I have a lot of empathy for this guy because had a very similar situation (verbal harassment by a driver, I yelled back, he then stalked/physically and verbally threatened me) happen on NE Sandy Blvd where we were both, as far as I could tell, following the letter of the law (he just didn’t like my presence, in general, and then he completely lost it — people came running out of a nearby store becuase they were worried about my safety). Yes, they are less likely to happen on a neighborhood greenway because there are less opportunities for conflict. BUT. NE Sandy is not the focus of any current PBOT safety projects. Nor are other intersections where drivers have verbally or physically harassed me, and other bikers I know, around town. I’m concerned that highlighting this particular incident plays up the very, very binary paradigm that gets highlighted around the nuanced complexities of improving N. Williams for everybody.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  Esther

“I just want to point out that N Williams is the focus of a PBOT safety project is somewhat irrelevant to this situation.

I disagree. I think it’s very relevant. The conditions that led to this altercation — with bike access being inadequate to the point where you have to be too close to dooring hazards — are precisely why that project got started in the first place.

If there was adequate access for bicycles on this road, the altercation would have been far less likely to have happened (and the same can be said to your experience on Sandy).

Like Elly Blue put it this morning on Twitter: “Road rage isn’t a personality flaw, eg “arrogant bicyclists.”… it’s a construct of inequality. Sane roads now pls”

craig harlow
craig harlow
10 years ago

I respectfully differ: road rage IS a dangerous tendency that arises from personalities that are poised for such behavior. Regardless of road conditions, some people are prone to road rage…it’s just how they roll, so to speak.

Erin
Erin
10 years ago
Reply to  craig harlow

Being in cars is not natural for humans. Anyone can experience road rage as a result of their inability to communicate with others. We’re in cages when we’re in cars and that can cause rage for anyone. It’s frustrating to not get one’s point across in a regular conversation with friends or family. Not getting one’s point across to a stranger means having less empathy and just increases the likelihood of rage. Yes, some may be more prone. But we are all prone in one way or another. It’s how we channel the energy that matters.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  craig harlow

I agree with Craig’s statement. Anytime any place.

JaccoW
JaccoW
10 years ago
Reply to  craig harlow

Off course people are sometimes more likely to get aggressive. You can punish them, but you can always prevent the conflict from happening. That is why in most countries, slow traffic keeps to the right and pedofiles are prevented from working with kids. (to give an extreme example)

Even as a cyclist in a bikeloving country (The Netherlands) I can feel my tolerance decrease when I get behind the wheels of a car. It is just more stressfull in some ways. As a bike I would probably wait behind a slower cyclist until I can pass them safely, but in a car I always feel that ‘need’ to pass them. And I can’t be the only one.

That is why an infrastructure that prevents such conflicts helps.

Chris Tuttle
Chris Tuttle
10 years ago
Reply to  craig harlow

I really agree with Craig here. I have a riding buddy who has a very short fuse — his personality is indeed “poised for such behavior.” When I ride with him, I am ten times more likely to witness a nasty cyclist-driver exchange (i.e., an exchange between my friend and a motorist) than when riding without him. In the situation described in this article, both parties lost control of their emotions and created a very dangerous situation. As a cyclist, being safe very much includes me keeping f-bombs and my middle finger under wraps. You never know who you’re dealing with.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  craig harlow

Craig,

I’m not saying some people aren’t prone to road rage regardless of the environment… Just that the design of a road can make a person more likely to act out in anger due to the stress/frustration the road design causes.

craig harlow
craig harlow
10 years ago

Jonathan, I totally agree that specific roadway conditions will breed or fewer incidents of conflict. But I submit that the manner in which each of us behaves when those incidents of conflict occur is probably always determined by who we are (or who we happen to be on that day), and not by the roadway layout.

I may trip seldom or often, but when I do, the crack in the sidewalk on which I tripped doesn’t determine whether I say “whoops” and catch my breath, or I totally freak out and scream obscenities and look for something to break.

craig harlow
craig harlow
10 years ago
Reply to  craig harlow

I meant to say in the first sentence:

“…will breed greater or fewer incidents of conflict…”

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago

Then one must adjust their approach according to the skill sets they have to manage the scenario. We cant line curbs with pillows everywhere.

wsbob
wsbob
10 years ago

“I’m not saying some people aren’t prone to road rage regardless of the environment… Just that the design of a road can make a person more likely to act out in anger due to the stress/frustration the road design causes.” maus/bikeportland

Living with and moving about amongst other people, most everyone has some understanding of the need to exercise varying measures of self control. The stress level inherent to a given road situation is what’s at issue here. Road stress level at points along Williams Ave seems generally to be recognized as being too high.

Basically, it boils down to: if people aren’t prepared to agree to reduce inherent stress of the road situation, they’re going to have to summon up greater measures of self control to deal with commonly occurring traffic conflicts arising from it.

Esther
Esther
10 years ago
Reply to  Esther

Then why I have I seen, heard and heard of drivers harassing cyclists on NE Ankeny between 12th and 28th? Theoretically, that street is probably one of the safest in terms of bike access in the city – short of removing cars entirely. yet there are still drivers acting out on road rage there.

jocko
jocko
10 years ago
Reply to  Esther

These people (usually) have zero idea of what the actually laws are that vehicles must abide by, it is a real problem of an uniformed population brimming with entitlement and deathly afraid of being “slowed down”.

DoubleB
DoubleB
10 years ago
Reply to  jocko

Just like a small minority of cyclists.

Adam
Adam
10 years ago
Reply to  Esther

If there was a diverter at 12th & Ankeny, and a diverter at 28th and Ankeny, there would be virtually no harassment of cyclists. Namely because, there would be no cut-through car traffic on a bike-prioritized street.

007
007
10 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Right, they think they’ve found a quick way to avoid congestion, but then a darn cyclist ruins everything.

HAL9000
HAL9000
10 years ago
Reply to  Esther

Very true. I’ve personally never had problems biking in North or Northeast Portland, just downtown and in Northwest. Anecdotally, for me only yuppies driving BMW SUV’s are the source of cycling/driving behavioral conflicts – but obviously this is not true!

Thomas Le Ngo
10 years ago

While Mr. Stephenson clearly did not deserve a potentially life-threatening assault, engaging an angry driver was not a smart idea. I’ve done it before and certainly didn’t win any minds.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Thomas Le Ngo

just lie back and think of england, thomas.

Over and Doubt
Over and Doubt
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

In all earnestness, that’s some high-quality retort.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago

i want to thank scott stephenson for not backing down. appeasement only encourages the abuse.

Door Zoner
Door Zoner
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

Here, here! We must stop passively blaming victims of mouth versus gun (car) assaults. If you have the car, the onus is on you and your death dealing device to hold the moral high ground.

HAL9000
HAL9000
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

There are other ways in dealing with conflict than appeasement. Although Oregon does not have a “stand-your-ground” law like Florida does, you can still assert your rights without ever resorting to hateful swearing.

It reads that Stephenson actually hit the woman’s car first. So… that would be his fault, right? You should slow down if objects are in your path instead of running into them.

If the reverse had been true and the woman hit HIM, simply recording her license plate and calling the cops would have been sufficient. If she ran, she could be subject to a hit-and-run charge, otherwise simply exchanging contact info ala a vehicular fender-bender would have been the likely result.

I say this from experience.

Many a war have been fought over knee-jerk reactions and hormonally-driven escalation.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  HAL9000

being doored in your right of way is not hitting a car.

are
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

the door was already open. she was getting into her car. she didn’t close the door quickly enough for this fellow’s taste. he hit her car. then he called her names. then he flipped her off. unfortunately the only weapon at her ready disposal was rather too powerful for the situation.

anyone who uses williams knows this intersection and knows that the first space or two are used by customers of the corner grocery and there is a lot of activity coming in and out. coming out of the light, you are not, as jonathan suggested in one of his responses here, being overtaken on the left by speeding cars. they are also coming out of the light. you see the car parked and the door open, you slide to the left. if you cannot handle that simple maneuver, take rodney.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  are

Thanks for pointing out the bit about her getting IN her car. I do not think a lot of people were catching that. I also would like to thank you for pointing out the general nature of this particular intersection, with its density,movement and obstructions. For the life of me, I can not understand how anyone can defend the actions of the cyclist here. IMO, I believe him to be a stubborn clod who decided to “Get Big” and force the issue. Again this is my opinion. Why do you crazy Williams commuters freak out all the time, when clearly this lane of travel is wrought with issues? Excluding name calling from the corner by teenagers around Dawson Park area a couple of years ago (and this was a very limited and isolated time, BTW) I have ridden Williams for 8 years with no issues to speak of. I love to watch the carnival of dysfunction every time I ride it.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  are

the account stated that stephenson grazed the door. it does not state that he intentionally slapped it. imo, you are basing your opinion of what happened entirely on unsupported speculation.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

So is everyone else. So whats your point? Look, I will be the first to admit that I am a complete loose cannon. I call it as I see it. And BTW, I never said he slapped it. I said he decided to “Get Big” which is an off road motorcycle racing term for sticking out your elbows in the corner to protect your line against a competitor. I have ridden by this locale ten thousand times. I have witnessed countless acts of idiocy on the part of cyclists on Williams. I also have a keen b.s. detector in regards to schmucks with entitlement and rage issues, It is my belief he was trying to throw his weight around and mark his territory. It backfired. As I believe “are ” stated he could have chosen to move over or taken another route. As someone else stated, he could of actually slowed or stopped. You say I am speculating that he did it intentionally. You are speculating he is telling the truth. And seeing how he is the the one telling it, I don’t believe him. If he was in a bar and I was the door man, I would see him to the parking lot and tell him never to return.

Todd Hudson
Todd Hudson
10 years ago
Reply to  HAL9000

Oregon *does* have a stand-your-ground statute. It’s just not as ridiculously written like Florida’s.

wsbob
wsbob
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

Not backing down? From what? Invitation to a numbskull swearing match? A big contest of ‘one-upmanship’, in which the lady driving the mini-van has scored some major points, while Stephenson has wound up eating asphalt and probably created further animosity towards bike traffic in the area?

Even if she gets caught and thrown in jail, in the neighborhood, the lady probably will have acquired some cred as a kind of folk hero for showing one of the obnoxious bicyclists what’s what.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

have you ever been bullied wsbob? some motorists behave alot like bullies.

Mabsf
Mabsf
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

Well, I hate to do this (seriously!) but put yourself in the woman’s shoes… (and forgive me if I describe the situation wrongly): you are busy loading/unloading your car, suddenly this white dude comes up at high speed, jams into your door and calls you a bitch… I would feel bullied by him… Add gender/race specifics and you have a volatile situation…

Now imagine the same situation if the person being bothered by the door would have stopped and said: “Hi, don’t know if you aware of it, but it’s really dangerous having your door open like this….”

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Mabsf

i guess you missed the part where the woman calls him a fucking asshole prior to his expletive.

i think the way that people are reading this account and envisioning completely different scenarios is a classic example of how eyewitness accounts become distorted by bias and prejudice.

wsbob
wsbob
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

Description of the incident doesn’t suggest the lady with her car door open into the bike lane was behaving like a bully. If she had her door open too long, it’s not clear from the story why, but her reason may have been legitimate. Her door open into the bike lane may have been an oversight; nothing in the story description suggests she deliberately had the door open to harass people in the bike lane. Basically, she seems to have been just minding her own business, not bullying anyone.

What appears to have happened, is that in brushing, bumping, hitting…whatever he did to her door…Stephenson, somehow antagonized the woman. He should have been ready with an apology from that moment, regardless of what the woman said to him. Did the woman respond to Stephenson’s action by being feisty, foul mouthed and out of control? Apparently so, and while that’s unfortunate, it’s not much of an excuse for Stephenson to respond in turn and behave like a doofus, engaging in a back and forth name-calling exercise.

The heart of the problem in incidents like this one is a failure of people to offer a little give and take. The infrastructure will continue to see improvements, but it’s never going to be perfect; there’s always going to be situations where someone’s car door is in someones way, or someone can’t get out of their car when they want because here comes someone in the bike lane.

There could be a number of legitimate reasons the lady had her car door open into the bike lane, which anyone hoping to be a responsible, conscientious road user, should be thinking of. It’s annoying and involves some effort to transition into the main travel lane from the bike lane to get around an obstruction, but the law allows doing so. More people traveling by bike need to become familiar with that law and how to correctly use it. And learn not to waste energy getting into shouting matches with slow moving ladies, absent minded because they’re trying to gather together things from the car, so they can shut the dang door, get out of the bike lane and on to the safety of the sidewalk.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

your vision of this woman as someone who was minding her business before being attacked by portlandia bike dude would have more credence if she had not tried to run someone down. all of those who are saying that the account of stephenson does not reflect well on him should recall the actions of the woman. in my view, when there is hard evidence of a serious crime committed by someone i tend to give the other party the benefit of the doubt. especially when there is absolutely no evidence that stephenson committed a criminal act.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

well said.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  oskarbaanks

…well said@ wsbob, that is.

redhippie
redhippie
10 years ago

So, how many stories of Black on White biker assualt on williams have we seen over the years on this web site. Certainly, more than any other part of the city.

daisy
daisy
10 years ago
Reply to  redhippie

Yes, well, since African Americans were legally barred from purchasing homes in any other part of the city for years, and since this is a historically black neighborhood, I’m not sure what your point is.

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago

There are all kinds of obstructions in the bike lane. If you don’t want someone touching your bike, why would you touch someone’s car? Come on now.

craig harlow
craig harlow
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

It’s a dumbass move, and I’ve been guilty of those.

I’ve come to think that, In a split-second when my senses tell me that my body/life is in immediate peril from someone, then adrenaline and testosterone combine to produce actions on my part that are: instant/reflecive, defensive, hostile, desperate, and often senseless–i.e. spit, curse, scream, car-slap, etc.

In a moment of almost complete helplessness, I think it’s (unfortunately) natural and automatic (maybe more so where testosterone is a stronger agent) to act out in some sort of defense, however futile or dumb-ass it seems in retrospect.

LoneHeckler
LoneHeckler
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

I have seen many folks on bikes reach over and close — sometimes slamming — car doors that were open in a bike lane (btw I am NOT suggesting Mr. Stephenson did this). I hardly think this is justified; what if a someone’s fingers are in the frame? A polite “excuse me, your door is blocking my way” might serve us better.

That said, I am 100% guilty of road rage and likely would have reacted in the same manner. I get so frustrated at drivers sometimes that I can’t help but dole out a one-fingered salute accompanied by a tirade of profanity. But sticks and stones, right? A torrent of swearing should not amount to a capital offense or grievous bodily harm.

My point? This driver overreacted and assaulted a man on a bicycle, plain and simple. But for me, I have been trying to tone down the rage and be willing to let some things go. This kind of crap makes it hard, though!

Middle of What Road?
Middle of What Road?
10 years ago
Reply to  LoneHeckler

I’ve come to think maybe it isn’t driver ignorance (in this case leaving a door open in traffic), but individual self-absorption (that leads to simply not thinking of others) that is the issue here. And it may just be a cultural thing. Does an increase of driving increase sociopathic tendencies -especially in a car-centric society?

HAL9000
HAL9000
10 years ago

Yeah, this is exactly what NOT to do while riding a bicycle.

If you can’t keep your cool, get off the bike, and take a break. If a driver exits a vehicle or tries to run you down, get the hell out of the way and call the cops.

On the other hand, if your goal is to wage a personal wage against @sshole drivers and you don’t mind becoming a martyr, go for it…

I should know – been there, done that.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  HAL9000

i really do not enjoy being told how i should or should not ride — especially in such a condescending manner.

and BTW, i’ve been engaging aggressive motorists for decades and have yet to martyr myself.

are
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

and do you attempt to educate them, or do you shout “stupid bitch” and throw a finger

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  are

you are putting words in my mouth. i was replying to a black and white statement about how cyclists should behave.

let me provide a relevant personal example:

the other day i was riding down hawthorne swinging right onto 12th with a green light. a woman heading south on hawthorne (with a yellow flashing light) cut me off. i had to skid and burn rubber to avoid hitting her and came within inches of hitting the front of her car. i don’t remember what i shouted at her as she sped off but i am pretty sure it was not an attempt to educate.

are
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

entirely different situation

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  are

nice try but i was replying to this generalization:

“If you can’t keep your cool, get off the bike, and take a break.”

if someone threatens me i am not going to keep my cool. imo, an emotional response is a moral response.

Mike
Mike
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

“imo, an emotional response is a moral response.”

Wouldn’t you say that her response was “emotional”? Who’s morals should be the guiding set?

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Mike

i have absolutely no problem with her emotional response but i have a huge problem with her attempt to run down a human being. and i would hope that most people would not view grazing a car door as a threat.

Ted Buehler
10 years ago

FWIW, here’s the passage in the Oregon Drivers Manual about road rage — how to avoid it, and what to do when you encounter it.

Road Rage and Agressive Drivers

These high-risk drivers climb into a vehicle and may take out their frustrations on anybody at any time. Their frustration levels are high and their level of concern for other motorists is low. They may run stop signs and red light, speed, tailgate, weave in and out of traffic, pass on the right, make improper and unsafe lane changes, make hand a facial gestures, scream, honk, and flash their lights at motorists who are in front of them. These are symptoms of something commonly called road rage.

Don’t be an agressive driver. If you are angry, you should not be driving. Give other drivers a break and share the road. The few extra seconds it takes to be courteous could save lives. Aggressive driving can lead to citation from law enforcement or loss of you driving privileges.

If you encounter an aggressive driver, concentrate on your driving and make every attempt to get out of the way. Avoid eye contact, ignore gestures and name calling, and refuse to return them.

p. 61, 62

Ted Buehler
10 years ago

Link to Oregon Drivers Manual
http://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/37.pdf

Ted Buehler
10 years ago
Reply to  Ted Buehler

I’m kinda surprised that there’s nothing in there about when to call 911 and report an aggressive driver…

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago

So if another biker slaps my rear fender and tells me to “get outta the way” would I not be entitled to rage?

craig harlow
craig harlow
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

Depends on your definition of rage… Feelings of anger? Sure, you’re entitled. Acts of violence with a deadly weapon, no, no entitlement to that.

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago
Reply to  craig harlow

Well evidently he was raging by attacking her verbally after having attacked her car physically. I’m sure she would have just slapped his frame with her hand if she could reach it but used her car to slap his frame. You attack my baby and I attack yours. This is absurd. As anyone who has sat in a car and had someone slap it knows it’s perceived as an act of violence.

LESTER
LESTER
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

I often use car slapping in lieu of a horn. Very effective when someone tries to merge into your lane.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

just the other day some punk walking down the street kicked my trashcan. if you kick my trashcan you are threatening me, my family, and the very moral fabric of society.

its interesting seeing the reactions to this. a cyclist is very nearly injured by an act of extreme violence and many “cyclist” commenters instead focus on an imagined assault on an inanimate object.

we are our own worst enemies.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

If you feel so bad for Mr. Stephenson, you should hang out with him and go riding sometime! My money is on that he will act this way again, and real soon at that. Why are you so persistent to raise such ridiculous arbitrary metaphors that have no connection to this story. It is my belief he was in fact the “trash can kicker” here.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  oskarbaanks

touching an inanimate object is not a crime.
verbal abuse can be a crime.
trying to kill someone with vehicle is a crime.

matthew vilhauer
matthew vilhauer
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

oh my! the fabric of society is unraveling!!!!

dear sir/mam/small child… the point you so elegantly seem to NOT comprehend is the simple fact that the cyclist should not have acted or perhaps not over-reacted in the fashion he chose. this was a simple choice he made. to engage. to engage in a manner that would elicit a response and… well… there you go. a story headline.

as of late i make eye contact/give the smile/nod to everyone i see while riding my bike. makes things so much easier. met some really nice folks this way too…. just saying….

ummm, were they a punk ’cause of the music they were listening to or ’cause they were assholes. there’s a difference.

John Lascurettes
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

If you were blocking the bike lane with your car, no, you’re not entitled to your rage; you’re entitled to being caught breaking the law and being called on it.

Joe
Joe
10 years ago

just crazy! get well man.

Eric
Eric
10 years ago

There is no excuse for attacking a person with your car, but “brushing” her car door means that he did hit it. To then yell at the driver seems pretty dickish. I’d say his actions contributed to the outcome.

Erin
Erin
10 years ago
Reply to  Eric

He just went on his merry way after he brushed against her door. He didn’t interact with her until she yelled at him. That’s an important detail.

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago
Reply to  Erin

“Brushed her car door” here may be a euphemism for slapping her door intentionally as punishment or some other in-the-moment motive.

John Lascurettes
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

I’m still trying to figure out how you can “brush” a car door without fully dooring yourself, unless it’s a “suicide door” that opens backward, not forward. I’ve never seen a minivan or SUV with suicide doors on the driver side (Honda Elements have one on the passenger side). Methinks it was something other than a “brush”

Craig Harlow
Craig Harlow
10 years ago

Be sure that he didn’t, he smacked or pushed her door intentionally. He saw her getting into her car and leave the door open, and it pissed him off. He wasn’t doored. His account.

John Lascurettes
10 years ago
Reply to  Craig Harlow

Right. So I say he’s being disingenuous when he claims:

Stephenson says his arm “grazed her door.” “It was no big deal,” he recalled, “So I just kept on going.”

Seems to me he was being purposely antagonistic. Look, I get pissed about it too, and I’m not innocent when it comes to being antagonistic, but his story sounds awfully fishy from his accounting of it.

LESTER
LESTER
10 years ago

I’ve been “grazed” by side view mirrors on several occasions so I’m sure the converse is quite possible. I’m surprised the driver noticed the brush unless perhaps a sleeve zipper, backpack strap clasp or other object harder than cloth hit her door, or perhaps she had her hand on the door so felt the jostle.

In any case she gave chase, so she’s the one who was up for a fight.

Personally, I take the lane if I come up on a car with an open door.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Eric

are you seriously defending dooring?

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

Door was already open when he approached. “Dooring” implies the door was in the process of opening.

BURR
BURR
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

ORS 811.490 Improper opening or leaving open of vehicle door; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper opening or leaving open a vehicle door if the person does any of the following:
(a) Opens any door of a vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and it can be done without interference with the movement of traffic, or with pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks or shoulders.
(b) Leaves a door open on the side of a vehicle available to traffic, or to pedestrians or bicycles on sidewalks or shoulders for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
(2) The offense described in this section, improper opening or leaving open a vehicle door, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §655; 1985 c.16 §320]

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago
Reply to  BURR

§ 814.420¹
Failure to use bicycle lane or path
• exceptions
• penalty
(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.
(2) A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.
(3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:
(a) Overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bicycle lane or path and passage cannot safely be made in the lane or path.
(b) Preparing to execute a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.
(d) Preparing to execute a right turn where a right turn is authorized.
(e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.
(4) The offense described in this section, failure to use a bicycle lane or path, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §700; 1985 c.16 §338; 2005 c.316 §3]

*(c)

This is not about dooring at all. It’s about not avoiding an obstruction in the bike lane and a cyclist punishing the obstructionist and being “punished” himself. The cyclist had ample time to notice the driver getting into her vehicle while leaving her door ajar as he watched at a stopped traffic light and reacted by “touching” her door as a reminder to un-obstruct the bike lane. Instead of stopping and calmly explaining verbally, he committed an act of perceived aggression.

BURR
BURR
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

Or he could have left the bike lane pursuant to ORS 814.420 and been run over by the car approaching from the rear on his left.

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago
Reply to  BURR

Yes, just like he would have done for a slower cyclist that impeded his rights. Had he slapped a female cyclist on the butt, it would have been a sexual offense. An obstruction, any obstruction, in the bike lane does not give someone a right to initiate physical contact. Should they both be cited for assault?

Craig Harlow
Craig Harlow
10 years ago
Reply to  BURR

Or he could have stopped and remained stopped until he was sure it was safe to proceed.

DoubleB
DoubleB
10 years ago
Reply to  BURR

Or he could have slowed down and waited for the door to close.

Dk
Dk
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

Sunny, clearly you’ve never ridden a bicycle. Cars misjudge distances of feet, as cyclists we are required to judge inches, sometimes we are wrong, but not by much. So a bag brushes a mirror or door, you really think its causing any damage? I suspect you also don’t want to widen bike lanes to give us a couple more inches to judge and negotiate. I love how you justify incidental contact with an attempt to kill a person, you must be a really stand up citizen.

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago
Reply to  Dk

I have 20 bikes. You’re not reading between the lines of the cyclist’s account and instead taking his statements literally. His statements imply he did more than brush against the door and is being evasive of the initial incident. Follow the comments instead of jumping straight in and ridiculing other commentators.

are
10 years ago
Reply to  BURR

“longer than necessary” is key.

Joe
Joe
10 years ago

Eric, sorry but I can be a dick if my life is in danger.

aaronf
aaronf
10 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Hey, you can do whatever you want to, but you are still be responsible for how you react to a situation. You seem like a pretty reasonable guy to me, and I would expect your response to be a bit more measured than this dude.

Hey, I could be run over while walking through crosswalks on Jantzen Beach monthly (at least) if I allowed it to happen. People just aren’t looking for pedestrians there. Now, every time I could freak out and scream at anyone who endangers my life… but to what end? Besides feeling good about yelling? If I yell with anger rather than just letting motorists know I’m there, do I have a better impact? Now, if someone eventually “pulls my card” stops and beats me up, am I blameless?

Me, I’ll never be in a situation like this unless it’s completely random, or an accident.

If I was in Stephenson’s shoes, I think I would have been too ashamed of my own actions to tell anyone what happened.

Dk
Dk
10 years ago
Reply to  aaronf

Meaning? I have to tell you I’m completely f*ing baffled by the comments here. Granted, I’m getting this guys account of the story but I’ve been in this situation a lot and I don’t think anything he did(based on the one-sided account) was unreasonable. When someone threatens me, I threaten them back. Smart? No. Human instinct? I think so. I know it’s not “Portland” but maybe we as cyclist need to bring a little more manhattan to the mix.

aaronf
aaronf
10 years ago
Reply to  Dk

First, I have my doubts about this part of the account:

She left her driver’s side door open, and Stephenson says his arm “grazed her door.”

I bet that Stephenson hit her door to let her know that he doesn’t appreciate that it was in his way. The door was already open when he approached it. So Stephenson either: a) hit the door on purpose, hard enough to anger the driver, and is downplaying it to “brushed” in his account, or b) is unable to avoid obstacles which are not moving. I wasn’t there, but I’ll go for a).

Next, the driver yelled at him for hitting her door. I don’t read that she threatened him. Asking “why did you hit my door?” is a question, not a threat.

Now, if biker had accidentally hit the door, he might have said “It was an accident” or something. But no, he hit her door to teach her a lesson. It was because “You shouldn’t open your door into the bike lane.”

My general opinion is that if you go looking for trouble, you will find it. When you do, I feel that you shoulder some of the blame. If I go out and try to teach 15 people a “lesson” tomorrow, and I’m rude about it, and one of them beats me up or something, am I as blameless as someone who is hurt in a random act?

As far as saying “Human instinct made me do it,” I just don’t understand. As she is driving away (before the physical confrontation) he turns and flips her off one last time… just as our ancestors flipped off sabre toothed tigers?

I’ve been in plenty of fight/flight situations where I was the one who de-escalated the situation. It doesn’t take a saint.

sabes
sabes
10 years ago
Reply to  aaronf

“She was wearing a short skirt, officer! She was asking for it!” Is that what you’re saying?

aaronf
aaronf
10 years ago
Reply to  sabes

I’m saying that I focus on the parts of a situation that I can influence, rather than what I think other people ought to do. Mindful Cyclist’s post at 10:34pm accurately summarizes my thought process in relation to educating motorists from my handlebars.

But way to compare this guy to a rape victim. A man banging (I mean brushing, of course) on a woman’s door because her door was in his bike lane, and he did not want to wait for her to shut her door… just like a rape victim!

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  aaronf

we have gone from “grazing” to “hitting” to “banging”. i don’t know what happened. i was not there. apparently quite a few commenter were there.

wsbob
wsbob
10 years ago

I’ve got some admiration for Stephenson having admitted that he swore at the lady. An apology included in his first verbal response to her would likely have deflected most of her anger: ‘I’m sorry miss, but you opened your door into the bike lane.’

She swore at him…so what? Swearing back is just justification to escalate. Some people have a limited vocabulary and no self control. Sounds like a tough gal that’s decided she ain’t gonna be pushed around anymore.

Hall 9000 makes a good point about not letting yourself get so tired that composure in the face of stressful situations isn’t manageable: “…If you can’t keep your cool, get off the bike, and take a break. If a driver exits a vehicle or tries to run you down, get the hell out of the way and call the cops. …”

Dave Thomson
Dave Thomson
10 years ago

First mistake was his, second hers, third his, until the her final escalation became assault. There is no moral high ground in this story.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
10 years ago
Reply to  Dave Thomson

Mmmmm….I don’t think so. First mistake was hers:

811.490 Improper opening or leaving open of vehicle door; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper opening or leaving open a vehicle door if the person does any of the following:

(a) Opens any door of a vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and it can be done without interference with the movement of traffic, or with pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks or shoulders.

(b) Leaves a door open on the side of a vehicle available to traffic, or to pedestrians or bicycles on sidewalks or shoulders for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

Still doesn’t necessarily excuse verbal assault, but the first act of disrespect was toward Mr. Stephenson. He may have attempted to point out the lady’s mistake by intentionally “brushing” her door (or may have been legitimately squeezed between moving traffic and the door, with no time to stop), but hers was the first bad move.

Spiffy
10 years ago
Reply to  Dave Thomson

only if you consider hitting her door a mistake, which the police do not… you can hit a car all day long and it’s not illegal… at least according to the 911 dispatcher I called when a road-rager was throwing things at my car on the freeway…

911: Did they damage your vehicle?
me: I don’t know, I’m inside it, but I can’t see any damage.
911: We can’t dispatch unless there’s damage.
me: So somebody throwing things out of their vehicle at me on the freeway isn’t grounds to send an officer?
911: No, it’s not.

are
10 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

so if it is not illegal it is not a mistake

aaronf
aaronf
10 years ago

“Fuck you Bitch” is no way to talk to a lady. Way to throw gasoline on a situation… and then come cry to BP when you get burned.

I’d agree that his actions contributed to the outcome. Stephenson is lucky he just got those “facial wounds” which look pretty minor in the picture at least.

She
She
10 years ago
Reply to  aaronf

The report indicates she first called him a “fucking asshole”, so he responded. She was not exactly trying to have a meaningful conversation by beginning it that way!

kgb
kgb
10 years ago
Reply to  aaronf

But perfectly acceptable when talking to felon. I can see nothing in this story to suggest a lady was involved. Just a dumb bitch in a car. Some of the people here are pathetic in their attempts to defend this attempted murderer.

Joe
Joe
10 years ago

lets not forget the driver in NYC that got away with dooring and killing a person riding a bike. couple bad words.. ( small ) going over the deep end with a 2ton object.. * LAME *

naomi
naomi
10 years ago

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

“How does one “brush up” against a car door?”

Well, if you’re trying to avoid speeding cars on your left and you’re riding in a 4-5 foot bike lane and there’s a door partially opened in that bike lane, you don’t really have much room so you try to squeeze by?

“Since he glossed over “fuck you bitch” with “verbal altercation”

Note that “verbal exchange” (not “verbal altercation”) are my words, not Stephenson’s. Thanks.
Recommended 0

Jon,

The angle of an open car door does not allow one to ‘brush’ by it. You either miss it or you hit it. I hope you don’t think I’m coming across as rude but I have no idea how you can believe it’s possible to ‘brush’ by an open door because pretty much the instant you make contact, due to the angle and the fact you as a moving body are pushing into the door, it will then ‘lodge’ into your upper arm/forearm and will take you down.

And while I apologize for not quoting you exactly (re altercation vs exchange), I do not feel it is an accurate portrayal. If a hostile male driver pulled up to a female bicyclist and shouted “you fucking bitch!” would you refer to it as a “verbal exchange”?

I’m not taking the driver’s side and I hope you can see my concerns are not rooted in any type of hostility. This is simply one of those stories where it seems as though the bicyclist perhaps isn’t owning up to his side in this altercation/exchange/whatever you want to call it.

Nobody deserves to be hit, but screaming “you fucking bitch” at someone is not an intelligent way to diffuse an altercation/exchange.

LESTER
LESTER
10 years ago
Reply to  naomi

Depends on your bike. My elbows and shoulders are wider than my bike so I can easily clip an object with my arm or get my arm clipped by an object (have gotten a few side-view mirror nudges where I did not go down).

If you have 28″ handlebars, YMMV.

LESTER
LESTER
10 years ago
Reply to  LESTER

In addition, shape or angle of object alters the situation only slightly. Sharp car door edges to hurt more than large diameter telephone poles. Watch out for the wooden ones, though, full o’ staples and nails! If you ride with locked-out elbows you’re more likely to go down.

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago

George confronts Martin, Martin beats George, George, shoots Martin. It’s plain as day right?

sabes
sabes
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

Where does Game of Thrones come into all of this?

Kevin
Kevin
10 years ago

I always try to remember that sociopaths exist, and they drive cars sometimes.

I hope this one gets caught.

A.K.
A.K.
10 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

I agree, some people are just wired to go off at any perceived slight or insult, real or imagined. If this was not the case, we wouldn’t have words for “road rage” in our vocabulary.

Additionally, I think some people are just pissed off in general and almost “looking” for a fight so they can get their anger out.

For example, I was driving a few months back and got stopped part way into a crosswalk when traffic stopped in front of me (I know, my bad with that… should have stopped back further). After the light changed, a guy started walking across the street begun to SCREAM at me, all sorts of crazy stuff that I can’t even remember now.

I rolled down my window and said “Hey, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…” and he yelled “NO YOU’RE F—KING NOT!!”.

It was the strangest thing. Some people WANT fights and conflicts. I think it makes them feel better in some way, that they can personally rail against all the “wrongs” and “injustices” they personally see in the world.

9watts
9watts
10 years ago

I’m intrigued that several folks here are so sure that Stephenson started this by bumping/touching/grazing her door.

Here’s Jonathan’s paragraph:
Stephenson was stopped in the bike lane, waiting at the red light at N. Fremont at about 1:00 pm. As his light turned green, a woman was getting into her car just outside the Williams St. Market. She left her driver’s side door open, and Stephenson says his arm “grazed her door.” “It was no big deal,” he recalled, “So I just kept on going.”

Notice that he was stopped at a light. I’m guessing he wasn’t the only one stopped. Proceeding through the intersection I could imagine (not saying it was this way but it seems plausible) that Stephenson had a car or cars on his left. The grazing the door bit under circumstances not unlike these has happened to me/I’ve done it, with zero malicious intent to ‘teach anyone a lesson’ or whatever folks are imagining he did.

Maybe Stephenson was provoking something, but I don’t see any proof of this in what Jonathan wrote and think we should be cautious of asserting something without more evidence.

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

The next two paragraphs after the one you cited imply that the “brush” was a hit and was more than accidental and in retaliation for blocking the bike lane. The fact that he didn’t stop implies a hit and run.

kgb
kgb
10 years ago
Reply to  Sunny

He should have stopped and got her insurance information since she doored him according to state law.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  kgb

Hah! I bet that would have been a polite interaction.

Adam
Adam
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

If she was getting into her car at the mini market, chances are, she came from the mini market.

Retrieving their store CCTV footage from that time period would be a piece of cake to find her on camera.

Adam
Adam
10 years ago

That mini market at that intersection is frustrating as a cyclist. People are always parking their cars half in the bikelane, and flinging their doors open into the bikelane without looking.

I think their rationale is, “Since I’m only going into the grocery store for a few minutes, I am entitled to park like a d*ck”.

Another reason for a (still yet to be found) better solution for Vancouver Williams.

Kerry
Kerry
10 years ago

I’ve seen more than one woman open her door wide open, look right at oncoming riders, and proceed to leisurely rummage around in the car, deliberately forcing riders into an unsafe situation. I never, ever, confront them on the idea that they’re just itching for a fight. Happens at that market a lot.

And self-righteous advice notwithstanding, I respond to frightening threats with anger. So, yeah, people yell and flip the bird sometimes. Last I checked bad language isn’t a capital offence.

are
10 years ago
Reply to  Kerry

that is as may be. the story being told here is that she was getting into her car while our narrator was waiting at a red light across the street. rather than carve a path slightly to the left, which should not have been difficult to do, as any motorist to his left was also coming out of a dead stop, he hit her door.

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago
Reply to  are

and didn’t stop.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  are

i think you are making assumptions about the timing of this interaction. the account did not specify how fast stephenson was moving, whether adjacent car traffic on the left was in motion, or when the door opened. i see no reason to believe that his “brushing of the door” was anything other than the result of an evasive maneuver due the opening of a door into his right of way.

are
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

it does say it happened immediately after the light changed. everyone started at zero. the car with the open door was right across the intersection. do your own math.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  are

your certainty that the door was already open before stephenson was in motion is based on…what exactly.

Craig Harlow
Craig Harlow
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

How about, “As his light turned green, a woman was getting into her car just outside the Williams St. Market. She left her driver’s side door open”

naess
naess
10 years ago
Reply to  Craig Harlow

don’t bother craig, sparewheel has already shown that any and all attempts to use the cyclists statements are merely “speculation”.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

….. “waiting at the red light at N. Fremont at about 1:00 pm. As his light turned green, a woman was getting into her car just outside the Williams St. Market.” I spend enough time at Alpenrose watching actual sprinters. Even as explosive as their finely tuned body’s are they would have enough presence of mind and body to avoid this “brush”. He entered the bike lane again while crossing the the street from a DEAD STOP at the light. Give up “spare wheel”. It seems that an overwhelming majority see the cyclist as drawing first blood here.

Ryan
Ryan
10 years ago

I hope Scott is alright.

Drivers are scary out there!

This is why I carry a can of pepper spray and a U-lock within reach at all times while cycling. You never know when it might be necessary to come out squirtin’ and swingin’ (in defense, obviously).

Craig Harlow
Craig Harlow
10 years ago

I REALLY can’t wait to hear her account of it reported.

Shoof
Shoof
10 years ago

I’ve lost my cool at car drivers while riding my bike many times, so I’m no angel in this regard. As others have said, adrenaline, nerves, defensive instincts, and mostly fury that my health and life were endangered by a driver’s actions, all are factors that are hard to overcome when things can happen so fast on the road.

Having said that, there are a few things I try to remember that sometimes helps me let it go (though I still can’t help myself at times):
* There is no positive outcome that can come from screaming cuss words, flipping the bird, slapping a panel. It’s not like there is any chance in hell the driver is going to get the message and think “Geez, he’s right I was wrong, I was being an a-hole. I’ll never do that again”. Even if they feel a little guilty or wrong, they’ll only feel justified the second you start dropping the f bomb on them.
* On the other hand there are lots of bad things that can result as an outcome, and you are dealing with a dangerous driver to begin with: they’ve got a 2-ton weapon they’re wielding, they can swing or throw something from their car, they might stop and come out with a friend or 2, or a bat, or a dog, or a gun.
* But what really gives me pause is the thought that at the end of this interaction, there is an agitated, hostile, dangerous driver who may unleash on the next unwitting cyclist they come upon while in that state. I’m not saying I would feel responsible or it would be my fault or anything, but I do feel like escalation could lead to a driver taking it out on somebody else who has no idea it’s coming.

Wishing this dude the best and not at all saying he had it coming to him or anything like that. Just saying, discretion is sometimes the better part of valor.

Biker Chick
Biker Chick
10 years ago

This is a grim discussion about a grim subject. The cyclist sounds like a jerk and the driver a nutcase who should lose her license. But so much of the tenor of the comments seems to indicate justification in their behavior. We all know the over-reaction feeling in a car or on a bike. But for god’s sake people, it’s never the right thing to do!

Dk
Dk
10 years ago
Reply to  Biker Chick

To be clear, I am not justifying the biker’s actions. What I’m saying is that I don’t care if the cyclist hit the car hard or soft, intentionally or unintentionally, it doesn’t justify someone using their car to assault them.

Ted Buehler
Ted Buehler
10 years ago

Williams Market has become a busy drug dealing scene in the last couple months. Some other houses and businesses in the neighborhood have recently become unavailable to dealers, and Williams Market has picked up the slack. There was a drive by shooting at the market itself in December, and a shooting at Beech and Vancouver last week.

Myself and other neighbors have also noticed an increase in sketchy folks in the market area.

Something to consider as you roll through there — give the locals a little more elbow room than you do normally.

FWIW

Ted Buehler

Dude
Dude
10 years ago

If she lives in, or frequents the neighborhood it will just be a matter of time until she is found.
There is a reason why car insurance cost more if you live in this neighborhood.
I hear people talking about having brushed up against cars by passing too closely, cyclists complain about cars driving closer than 3 ft to them. Bikes should follow the same rule and stay 3 ft away from cars. Nobody wants to spend hundreds of dollars repairing a scratched paint job just because some bozo on a bike thought he could squeeze through there. Also would be dangerous if the car were to move a little bit to that side.

Paul in the 'Couve
Paul in the 'Couve
10 years ago
Reply to  Dude

You are aware that the only way a cyclist could ride in most urban or suburban areas and leave a 3 foot space from objects on either side would be to ride in the middle of the travel lane at all times?

naess
naess
10 years ago

and the problem with that is???????

Paul in the 'Couve
Paul in the 'Couve
10 years ago
Reply to  naess

I don’t have a problem with that. Most of the time that is what I prefer and more and more frequently that is how I ride, even in there are bike lanes present. Just noting what 3 feet on either side of my 20″ wide bars would look like.

Still, I would not agree that bikes need to leave 3 feet from parked cars or even stopped cars.

Dude
Dude
10 years ago

Do you agree that cars need to give You 3 feet? You just don’t need to give them 3 feet?

Paul in the 'couve
Paul in the 'couve
10 years ago
Reply to  Dude

No I don’t need to give cars 3 feet!

Question: Do car drivers need to give other cars 3 feet? Is that a law? The reason car drivers should give bicyclists 3 feet is that cars and inherently very capable of maiming and killing not to mention damaging property. How many cyclists have ever taken out a telephone pole or crashed into a house or business?

It is a asymmetrical question on several levels.

Firstly in terms of risk posed we are talking about a few hundred dollar possible scratch – which very rarely even happens, vs. life threatening injuries.

Secondly, a moderately skilled cyclist can easily maneuver in a space with 6 inches on either side of his handle bars. Most car operators can’t judge and maneuver easily with even 2 feet on either side – thus car lanes are typically 10 feet and narrowing to 8 feet will make drivers slow down, because they can’t judge the distances.

Finally even if the cyclist is placing himself in greater risk of injury, it is a judgement they are making based on their own skills and risk assessment. When a car buzzes me at 6 inches with a speed differential of 20 mph it is the driver risking my life on his skill and judgement while if I choose to pass a car or line of cars with 6 inches to spare, I’m taking my own risks.

Dude
Dude
10 years ago

But do you have the right to take a risk that involve another person (the driver) it would not be fair to him if he hit you. You said yourself he can not control his car within 2 ft of something. you may have the right to hit a tree or pole but not a car because that involves someone else that had no control over your actions.

wsbob
wsbob
10 years ago

“No I don’t need to give cars 3 feet! …” Paul in the ‘couve

How close is too close? Dude, commenting to the top of this sub-thread, raised fair issues about occupants of motor vehicles having legitimate reasons for not being comfortable with people on bikes…because they feel they’re personally capable of doing so within their own comfort and safety level…squeezing up close to motor vehicles for various reasons.

For operators and occupants of motor vehicles…any vehicle really…it can be additional road stress when people in or on other vehicles sweep up alongside, front or back of their vehicle closely.

Paul in the 'couve
Paul in the 'couve
10 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

People who aren’t confident in there skills driving in crowded conditions and heavy traffic where bikes are likely to be in close proximity should …..

TAKE THE BUS!

wsbob
wsbob
10 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

Paul in the ‘couve
People who aren’t confident in there skills driving in crowded conditions and heavy traffic where bikes are likely to be in close proximity should …..
TAKE THE BUS!
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No road user should be ‘buzzing’…coming unnecessarily close…to other road users whether they’re traveling on bikes or within motor vehicles.

This isn’t an issue of confidence on the part of people operating motor vehicles to endure the abuse of another person’s operation of against vehicle, against common sense decency with regards to use of the road. It’s an issue of disregard for safety, decency, and resulting stress which both Stephenson and the as yet unidentified lady with her door open in the bike lane came up short on in this situation.

Paul in the 'couve
Paul in the 'couve
10 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

A bicycle passing a stopped or slowly moving car with 1 Foot of clear space is NOT BUZZING that is my point.

What exactly becomes buzzing varies by congestion, speed, and other conditions but in typical urban situations it isn’t 3 feet.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago

STOP THE MADNESS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
10 years ago

I remember coming across a situation like this often when NE Broadway was part of my commute. I would often get stopped at the light on 16th or 15th and would see someone walking to his/her car. Peet’s coffee customers were often the main offenders. Without fail, the door would be open in the bike lane and sometimes it would be closed quickly and sometimes it was not. I had plenty of time to react and I could see the open door impeding the bike lane. And, this was at 7:45 am–during rush hour.

So, I had to make a decision at this point. Do I:

1. Look over my shoulder and check traffic to my left and assert my space in the car lane? This may require slowing down a bit as well, but at best maybe 5 seconds taken off my commute.

2. Stop in front of the offender and kindly tell them that what they are doing is against Oregon law? Gently tell them. Not everyone in town is BP reader and many (most?) people do not realize they can get a ticket for that. This would require at minimum of one minute taken off my commute and that is assuming I was met with a friendly “wow, I didn’t know that. Thank you” response.

3. Smack the car door or shoulder brush it or yell something? This is going to be read by most as a sign of aggression. It may take a second off the commute or it may require a trip to the ER.

Needless to say, I always chose option one. Even if I did not mean to shoulder brush the door, it could possibly be seen as a sign of aggression on the part of the driver. I cannot possibly know what that other person is thinking of if they are going to act aggressively. Sorry if this doesn’t make me a “manly” cyclist, but it is just not worth my time or energy. And, this is coming from a guy that has facilitated 100’s or anger management groups and know what it often takes very little for someone to snap.

Ride strongly, ride mindfully, ride courteously, ride assertively. And for the love of all that is holy, if you are going to expect a motorist to cut a few seconds out of his commute, please extend the favor to someone else–regardless of travel mode.

Dwayne
Dwayne
10 years ago

And if, during option one your messenger bag brushed her door…then what?

aaronf
aaronf
10 years ago
Reply to  Dwayne

Say “I’m sorry, I accidentally brushed your door!”

But that only works if it’s an accident.
If you slap the door on purpose this won’t work. 🙁

are
10 years ago
Reply to  Dwayne

in this case it was his shoulder. so he says.

Dwayne
Dwayne
10 years ago
Reply to  are

Okay,we were talking a hypothetical case ARE, but in this hypothetical case, your shoulder brushes the door, then…?

are
10 years ago
Reply to  Dwayne

then you were passing too close and you should apologize

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
10 years ago
Reply to  Dwayne

Considering in option 1, I am going to give myself enough room to safely pass, that shouldn’t happen. But, yes, as aaronf said, I would say I am sorry. Heck, I know the door is not supposed to be open in the bike lane so I don’t feel compelled to do anything else.

Dwayne
Dwayne
10 years ago

Sorry, sunny’s 20 bikes, not Donna. I don’t know who Donna is and am sorry to have brought her into this 🙂

Tim
Tim
10 years ago

I had a razor blade thrown in front of my bike from a driver today on my way to work on N. Killingsworth just west of MLK. I heard it clank on the pavement about ten feet in front of me and immediately dodged it and noticed it was a razor blade as I passed it. I couldn’t be sure which car it came from as there was a lot of congestion at the time.

I was too confused by the situation that it didn’t occur to me that someone was trying to sabotage me until about 30 seconds later. I want to say it came from a blue 90’s compact, possibly a toyota or honda.

Dude
Dude
10 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Try not to ride too close to the crackheads. You just don’t know what they will do next.

Tim
Tim
10 years ago

By the way, I’ve been yelled at by drivers numerous times. If it’s my fault I wave and apologize. If it is not my fault I just ignore them. You never know what’s going to happen when you get into an altercation with an angry person in a car. They already have the advantage.

Keep yourself safe and just let the matter be. The best you can do about an aggressive driver is try and get the license plate or a description of the vehicle, report it and be on your merry way.

Dan
10 years ago

mark kenseth
Good points by both. Gentrification doesn’t affect one racial group…
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It does in inner N/NE Portland!

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
10 years ago

I hope that Scott has a complete recovery, and the driver gets “hers”.

Be safe out there folks!

dan
dan
10 years ago

I can’t help but wonder what Scott would have done if the driver had been a man. Is that reading too much into the interaction?

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  dan

NO, not at all. thank you Dan. I didn’t even want to bring that up. But it is a valid point.

Dude
Dude
10 years ago
Reply to  dan

I wonder if insurance companies keep statistics about this type of thing and break it down into gender?

Two Wheel
Two Wheel
10 years ago

I like the idea of bicycle helmet cameras. They help keep everyone honest. I agree with Oskarbaanks- Stop the Madness!!!!!!

LESTER
LESTER
10 years ago

Depends on your bike. My elbows and shoulders are wider than my bike so I can easily clip an object with my arm or get my arm clipped by an object (have gotten a few side-view mirror nudges where I did not go down).

If you have 28″ handlebars, YMMV.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago

“As his light turned green, a woman was getting into her car just outside the Williams St. Market. She left her driver’s side door open, and Stephenson says his arm “grazed her door.” “It was no big deal,” he recalled, “So I just kept on going.”

I think those who are assuming that the car door was already open should read this passage again. The phrase “She left her driver’s side door open” does not provide any evidence that the door was open before Stephenson had started moving forward. If Stephenson was in motion and the motorist flung the door open this was a cut and dried case of illegal dooring.

are
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

direct reply to this posted below, did not nest

Lucas
Lucas
10 years ago

dan
Why is this not assault with a deadly weapon?

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I believe it would be if she was caught and charged.

KP
KP
10 years ago

I’ve known Scott for years. He is a big fellow, and he doesn’t mince words. He is also honest. Just as I believe he shouted those exact profanities at the driver, I believe if he says he brushed the door with his arm and it wasn’t anything worth stopping over than that is what occured.
If he was going to make a point of the door being open, he would have stopped and yelled at the driver right then and there. I do not believe the gender of the driver matters in the slightest as I have heard him rant to people of all walks of life.
He does have a short fuse. He does yell at people. He does not intentionally damage property.

oskarbaanks
oskarbaanks
10 years ago
Reply to  KP

” He does have a short fuse. He does yell at people. He does not intentionally damage property.” No because sweeet widdle Scotty bear is a nice Bot Scout. whatever.

Steve
Steve
10 years ago

Sounds like Scott got off easy. Why was he messing with a woman anyway and not a guy his own size?